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9 Uncommon Causes of Back Pain : Unraveling the Mystery of Rare Conditions and Disorders

9 Uncommon Causes of Back Pain: Unraveling the Mystery of Rare Conditions and Disorders

  1. Spinal Stenosis: Narrowing of the Spinal Canal

    Spinal stenosis is a condition characterized by the narrowing of the spinal canal, leading to compression of the nerves. This condition is often caused by degenerative changes in the spine, such as osteoarthritis or the formation of bone spurs. Back pain associated with spinal stenosis typically worsens with activity and improves with rest. Other symptoms may include numbness, tingling, or weakness in the legs. Treatment options range from conservative measures like physical therapy and medication to surgical intervention in severe cases.(1)

  2. Ankylosing Spondylitis: Inflammatory Arthritis of the Spine

    Ankylosing spondylitis is a type of chronic inflammatory arthritis that primarily affects the spine. This condition causes inflammation in the joints between the vertebrae, leading to stiffness and pain. Back pain associated with ankylosing spondylitis tends to be worse in the morning or after periods of inactivity, and it improves with movement and exercise. Other symptoms may include fatigue and discomfort in the hips, shoulders, or other joints. Treatment for ankylosing spondylitis focuses on managing inflammation, pain, and maintaining mobility through medication, physical therapy, and exercise. (2)

  3. Spondylolisthesis: Vertebrae Misalignment

    Spondylolisthesis occurs when one vertebra slips forward or backward in relation to the adjacent vertebrae. This condition can result from a variety of factors, including a congenital defect, trauma, or degenerative changes. Back pain associated with spondylolisthesis can range from mild to severe and may be accompanied by leg pain or weakness. Treatment options depend on the severity of the condition and may include physical therapy, bracing, medication, or in some cases, surgery.(3)

  4. Osteomyelitis: Bone Infection

    Osteomyelitis is a rare condition characterized by a bone infection that can affect the vertebrae in the spine. Back pain associated with osteomyelitis is often severe and may be accompanied by fever, chills, and swelling. Prompt diagnosis and treatment are crucial to prevent the spread of infection. Treatment typically involves a combination of intravenous antibiotics and, in some cases, surgical drainage or debridement.(4)

  5. Fibromyalgia: Widespread Musculoskeletal Pain

    Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, and tender points throughout the body. While back pain is not exclusive to fibromyalgia, it is a common symptom experienced by individuals with this condition. The pain in fibromyalgia is often described as aching, burning, or throbbing and may be accompanied by stiffness. Treatment for fibromyalgia focuses on managing symptoms through a multidisciplinary approach, including medication, physical therapy, lifestyle modifications, and stress management techniques.(5)

  6. Spinal infections:

    Spinal infections can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. They can affect the bones, discs, or nerves in the spine. Symptoms of spinal infections can include back pain, fever, chills, and muscle weakness.(6)

  7. Tumors:

    Tumors can develop in the spine or other areas of the back. They can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Symptoms of tumors in the back can include back pain, numbness, weakness, and difficulty walking.(7)

  8. Arthritis:

    Arthritis is a condition that causes inflammation of the joints. It can affect the joints in the spine, causing back pain.(8)

  9. Scoliosis:

    Scoliosis is a condition that causes the spine to curve abnormally. It can cause back pain, especially in children and adolescents.(9)


In conclusion, while most cases of back pain can be attributed to common causes, it is important to recognize that there are rare conditions and disorders that can also be responsible for this discomfort. By exploring the realm of uncommon causes of back pain, we have unraveled the mystery behind these rare ailments and shed light on their symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options.

From spinal stenosis and ankylosing spondylitis to spondylolisthesis and osteomyelitis, these lesser-known culprits of back pain require special attention and appropriate medical intervention. Fibromyalgia, spinal infections, tumors, arthritis, and scoliosis are additional uncommon causes that can contribute to back pain and should be considered when evaluating and managing this condition.

By increasing our knowledge about these uncommon causes, we empower ourselves to seek proper medical care and improve our overall understanding of back pain. If you or a loved one experiences persistent or unusual back pain, it is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional who can accurately diagnose and provide appropriate treatment options based on the underlying cause.

Remember, uncovering the mystery behind back pain involves a comprehensive approach that considers both common and uncommon causes. By staying informed and proactive, we can take steps towards relieving back pain and improving our overall well-being.


  1. Spinal Stenosis. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from:https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/spinal-stenosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20352961
  2. Ankylosing Spondylitis. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from:https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ankylosing-spondylitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20354808
  3. Fong C, Mak K, Yip R, et al. The Incidence, Prevalence, and Surgery of Spondylolisthesis in Hong Kong: A Population-Based Study. Spine. 2016;41(3):E141-E148. doi:10.1097/BRS.0000000000001202
  4. McNally M, Ferguson JY, Lau ACK, et al. Single-Stage Treatment of Chronic Osteomyelitis with a New Bioactive Resorbable Bone Graft. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2016;98(12):992-1002. doi:10.2106/JBJS.15.00992
  5. Häuser W, Walitt B, Fitzcharles M-A, Sommer C. Review of pharmacological therapies in fibromyalgia syndrome. Arthritis Res Ther. 2014;16(1):201. doi:10.1186/ar4441
  6. Hadjipavlou AG, Mader JT, Necessary JT, Muffoletto AJ. Hematogenous pyogenic spinal infections and their surgical management. Spine. 2000;25(13):1668-1679. doi:10.1097/00007632-200007010-00004
  7. Park DY, Sohn JH, Kim JH, et al. Spinal Tumors: The Importance of Early Diagnosis and Treatment. J Korean Neurosurg Soc. 2017;60(5):537-547. doi:10.3340/jkns.2017.0303
  8. Kalichman L, Hunter DJ. Lumbar facet joint osteoarthritis: a review. Semin Arthritis Rheum. 2007;37(2):69-80. doi:10.1016/j.semarthrit.2006.08.006
  9. Negrini S, Aulisa AG, Aulisa L, et al. 2016 SOSORT guidelines: orthopaedic and rehabilitation treatment of idiopathic scoliosis during growth. Scoliosis Spinal Disord. 2018;13:3. Published 2018 Feb 2. doi:10.1186/s13013-017-0145-8

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:May 26, 2023

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